Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Air Force Invisible Wounds Initiative helps build a supportive culture

Image of Invisible Wounds Initiative. The Air Force launched Invisible Wounds Initiative Command Team Campaign launched last October (Courtesy of Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs).

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

As part of the ongoing Invisible Wounds Initiative Command Team Campaign launched by Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., chief of staff of the Air Force, and Air Force Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, chief of Space Operations, the service is working to improve the perception of invisible wounds, remove barriers to care, enhance the continuum of care process, and provide an equitable and supportive environment for those living with invisible wounds.

The campaign, launched in October 2021, calls on each command team to act - to lead, support, and engage Airmen and Guardians living with invisible wounds.

An invisible wound is a cognitive, emotional, or behavioral condition that can be associated with trauma or serious adverse life events. Examples of possible diagnoses are major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Awareness and support from leadership significantly influence conversations about mental health and show Airmen and Guardians that seeking care is a sign of strength.

The Command Team Campaign is a communications effort to increase knowledge and enable command teams to build connectedness, trust, and openness to tough conversations. CSAF and CSO have asked commanders to implement the campaign strategies and use the resources that have been proven successful in pilots at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. To enable command teams, the IWI developed the Invisible Wounds Command Team , designed to help commanders engage their teams, build knowledge and understanding of invisible wounds, and continue to make substantive changes to address mental health openly and honestly.

The guide and toolkit provide command teams with all the information and materials needed to implement the campaign and drive positive change. Command teams can leverage consistent internal communication channels to share information through email, all-hands, and newsletters, as well as spread messages to a wider audience using wing and squadron-level social media platforms. Fact sheets and informational resources are included for leaders at all levels to use in their daily conversations with Airmen and Guardians. The guide and toolkit also contain print resources to catch the attention of Airmen and Guardians in high traffic areas with visual content on posters, table tents, and other materials.

"Leaders drive culture and enable Airmen, Guardians, and families to perform at their best, both at work and home," said Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Shick, director of Warrior Wellness and Policy Integration, Secretary of the Air Force/Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

The Command Team Campaign was developed as a result of two successful culture change pilot programs to improve the awareness, communication, and help-seeking behavior around invisible wounds. The IWI piloted these culture change efforts at Joint Base Langley-Eustis and Joint Base Andrews using digital and physical communication products to promote awareness and engagement, as well as by embedding invisible wound topics into training courses.

In addition to communications and culture change activities, the IWI has implemented numerous solutions that drive timely, proactive case handling, engaged leadership, supportive environments, and accessible, effective care delivery. The program established an Invisible Wounds Clinic that significantly improved identifying, diagnosing, treating, and reintegrating Airmen and Guardians with TBI and/or PTSD. Additionally, the team has integrated invisible wound concepts into the Basic Military Training, Leadership Development Course for Squadron Command, and Office of Disability Council curricula, including the development of self-paced IWI training videos. Another program initiative was to develop validation criteria and the process to identify policy barriers, which has been completed, as the team continues to evaluate initially identified policy items and recommend solutions for mental health barriers.

"With the Invisible Wounds Initiative, I feel like we're moving in the right direction. It's the natural progression in our understanding for how to best care for our service members," says Air Force Maj. David Schonberg, director of Manpower & Personnel, Headquarters, District of Columbia Air National Guard. "From 'shell shock' in WWII, to PTSD and TBI, we've learned so much about the warning signs and symptoms of invisible wounds. This initiative provides our teammates with simple yet meaningful tools and resources so that together, we become a powerful safety net to help look out for one another."

The IWI was established in 2016, as a DAF enterprise-wide effort to engage Airmen, Guardians, families, care providers, and leadership to improve the perception of invisible wounds, remove barriers to care, enhance continuum of care processes, and provide an equitable environment for those with invisible wounds. The IWI encourages help-seeking behaviors by providing leaders, Airmen, Guardians, and their families with the knowledge to make the best decisions about their mental health and well-being.

"Candid conversations about personal challenges and providing access to support resources help to fight stigma and reduce barriers to help-seeking," Shick said. "It is essential that leaders foster supportive environments for everyone and in particular, those living with invisible wounds."

You also may be interested in...

378th Medical Partnerships Sustain Life and Mission

Article Around MHS
6/1/2022
Military medical personnel perform mock emergency care

Air Force medical contingency response team members, with the 378th Expeditionary Medical Squadron, perform mock emergency medical care for a simulated casualty at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Warrior Care

Multiservice medical providers, medics take on dive injuries, treatments

Article Around MHS
5/31/2022
Military personnel in pool for training

A group of medical providers and medics recently spent two weeks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Dive Center here learning how to treat patients who may have suffered a dive injury.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Warrior Care

JBLM Soldiers Start Preparing for Warrior Games With Hard Training

Article Around MHS
4/19/2022
Military personnel training for Army Trials and DoD Warrior Games

The DoD Warrior Games 2022 may be months away, but the Soldiers of Task Force Phoenix at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in Tacoma, Washington already are deep into an intense training regimen in the hopes of securing some shiny hardware this August in Texas.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Recovering Service Members Compete in National Rowing Championship

Article
3/4/2022
Recovering Service Members and Paralympic athletes take on National Indoor Row Championship.

Recovering Service Members compete in 2022 national indoor rowing championships.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

National Caregivers Day

Infographic
1/12/2022
National Caregivers Day

It’s #NationalCaregiversDay! Thank you to the millions of dedicated caregivers keeping our loved ones safe and healthy. https://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/Caregiver-Resources/

Recommended Content:

February | Warrior Care

Ft. Belvoir Leaders Learn to Row Learn More About MASP

Article
12/10/2021
Military personnel participating in adaptive sports

Fort Belvoir Soldier Recovery Unit Command team joins MASP for a rowing clinic in Washington D.C. to experience benefits of adaptive sports firsthand.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Caregiver Wife’s Support Instrumental to Wounded Warrior’s Recovery

Article
11/30/2021
Retired Air Force Tech Sgt. Eric Heldman staying active

Eric and Crystal Heideman are not just husband and wife, but life partners navigating life as a wounded warrior and his full-time caregiver with resilience, will, and above all, love for one another.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Meet the Matriarch of Wounded Warrior Caregivers at Walter Reed

Article
11/30/2021
Service members transporting a severely wounded soldier

For worried caregivers at Walter Reed Bethesda, Linda Rasnake is a positive force of nature.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Wounded Warriors and Caregivers Online Resources

Article
11/29/2021
Airmen race for a loose ball during an Air Force Wounded Warrior basketball game

The Defense Department programs listed here are staffed with nearly 800 recovery care coordinators and case managers who are standing by to respond to individual queries.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care

Mental Stress is like a ‘Check Engine Light’ Flashing–Don’t Ignore It

Article
11/29/2021
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David talks about his  journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David speaks about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Virtual Show of Strength | Psychological Fitness

For Many Wounded Warriors, Not All Damage is Visible or Combat-Related

Article
11/23/2021
A picture of Alex and Allison Pate

For Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex Pate’s wife, Allison, being a caregiver to a wounded warrior has been a series of emotions, but she’s grateful for the support they’ve received along the road to his recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

For Wounded Warriors, Adaptive Sports Bring Camaraderie and Confidence

Article
11/19/2021
Military personnel with their service dogs during swim practice

At the Wounded Warrior level, sports that can be adapted to accommodate disabilities are literally saving lives. And the sports and other adaptive activities are getting more widespread and popular each year.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Warrior Care Month Recognition

Policy

Join me in recognizing Warrior Care Month, an important Department-wide effort to increase awareness of programs and resources available to wounded, ill, and injured Service members, as well as their families, caregivers, and others who support them. Established in 2008, the annual Warrior Care Month recognition occurs each November. The theme of this year's observance is "Virtual Show of Strength."

Tips for Caregivers – How to Take Care of Yourself and Avoid Burnout

Article
11/4/2021
Soldier sitting in gym with wife and daughter

The Human Performance Resources by CHAMP team, part of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ Consortium for Health and Military Performance provides stress management strategies for caregivers of recovering friends, family members or loved ones.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Total Force Fitness | Warrior Care

WICC Podcast

Photo
10/18/2021
WICC Podcast

Today’s female service member population is now at 17%.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care | Total Force Fitness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 5
Refine your search
Last Updated: February 04, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.